Aley Chubeza #176, October 28th-30th 2013

This week we are delighted to introduce Roy Borochov, a neighbor from Kfar Bin Nun and one of Chubeza’s first clients, and the Gargir flour mills. Those of you who attended the Open Day may have seen (or even experimented with) the lovely mills Roy brought along to grind flour for pita.

Roy, the floor is yours:

When we established Gargir, we aimed to allow each and every one to consume homemade, healthy food. In our viewpoint, one day soon every household will own a home flour grinder. The ability to personally prepare the most basic food product, bread, is a great privilege. You owe it to yourself and your family members to produce healthy bread.

The time that ensues from grinding to use is critical in order to maintain the nutrients of the cereal grain. Once it is ground, the process of oxidation begins and the minerals and vitamins break down, diminishing the nutritional value of the flour. With our products, you can prepare the flour at home from a wide variety of cereals, in the quantity of your choice and with optimal freshness, thus retaining the nutritious benefits.

We offer you home flour grinders based on millstones. These grinders can grind any non-fatty cereal grain (wheat, spelt, rye, barley, hummus, corn and others). We carry a variety of models, from the compact and practical “Easy” model, to those with an ability to produce 125 gr. flour per minute, or the bigger ones, Billy200, Octagon2 (our flagship product) which can grind 220 gr. of your homemade flour in just one minute.

Naturally, as veteran Chubeza clients, we chose to join forces with Chubeza and open another door for you to healthy life.

Take a look at the prices of our grinders. You can make the order via the Chubeza online ordering system or directly from Gargir.

Important: if you order a grinder to be delivered with your vegetable box, please be certain to coordinate this with us so that someone is at home to receive it.

Bon Appetite! To your health!

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In honor of the return of the Brassicaceae roots (and Halloween) I am re-posting a bewitched newsletter. Cackle, cackle…

Radish, Turnip, Eye of Newt……………..

In a popular Hebrew book that my daughters love about five witches (by Ronit Chacham), radishes and turnips are major ingredients in the brew concocted for a spell by five very amusing witches. As it turns out, not only witches crave these vegetables.  Among us mortals and muggles, the turnip and radish (along with a small radish and daikon) can be just as vital in a potion to ease the common cold, cough, mucous buildup, hoarseness, coughing, infections and other winter spells. Winter is the season in which the members of the Brassicaceae family (formerly the Cruciferae) thrive. They are cousins, not siblings, since the radishes belong to the Raphanus genus and the turnips to the Brassica genus, but today we will sandwich them all together (or stir them into the same cauldron) and discuss their common characteristics.

So we already know that they all belong to the Brassicaceae family, along with such members as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kohlrabi, mustard greens, tat soi and others. Its former name was the Cruciferae, after the shape of its four-petal flowers, which resembles a crucifix. Here are some examples:

Wild Mustard
Erucaria
Maltese Cross Ricotia
Wild Radish

The Brassicaceaes are a venerable winter family, and we eat various parts of their plants: sometimes the flower buds (broccoli, cauliflower), sometimes the stem (kohlrabi) or the leaves (mustard, cabbage, tat soi and others) and also the roots, to whom this newsletter is dedicated today: the radish, daikon and turnip.

Truth be told, this is a populist division. The good parts of the turnip, daikon and radish are not only found underground–many parts of these vegetables can be eaten. For instance, turnip greens are very tasty, and some turnip varieties are grown specifically for their leaves and not roots. Leaves of the large radish are bitter and coarse, but the greens of small radishes can certainly be used in culinary pursuits. The French add small radish leaves to potato soup and to add a hint of pungency to salads made of steamed spinach.

Other varieties of radishes and turnips were developed in order to make oil from their seeds. These oils were used in the past, and Maimonides mentions them in discussing those oils permitted for Sabbath candle lighting: “At the outset, one is permitted to use other oils – e.g., radish oil, sesame oil, turnip oil, or the like. It is forbidden to use only those which were explicitly mentioned by our Sages.” (Mishnah Torah, Shabbat, Chapter 5, halakha 11)

And now, some words on each of these vegetables:

The turnip is an ancient cultivated growth that was possibly grown in gardens of old in China, Greece, Rome, Egypt and also here. In kitchens throughout, it was a basic, common vegetable. Assaf the Physician (Assaf Harofe Ben Brakhiyahu who lived in 6th century Tiberias) praised the leaves and seeds of the turnip: “The leaves will be useful for all mental distresses and for malaria, while its seeds will be useful in treatment of pain and all sorts of ailments that lead to death.” However, even the juice produced from the root itself is known in folk medicine as beneficial in treating the cough, hoarseness, mucous, and dryness of the nose and mouth. In natural medicine, turnip juice is used to treat malaise as well as kidney stones. In order to produce juice, one must press the root. Half a kilo of roots make one glass of juice. Half a kilo of squeezed leaves will make half a glass of juice.

There are many varieties of radishes, differing in size, shape and color, as well as pungency. At Chubeza, we grow radishes and daikons. Here are some illustrations of several radish beauties:

small colorful radishes
Black Radish
daikon radish

Instructions for Storing:

  • Radishes and turnips are roots, i.e., their function is to absorb food and water from the earth in order to supply them to the plant as needed. When picked, we disconnect the plant from its current supply, and the roots hurry to transform the material they had accumulated to the plant’s leaves in order for them to continue to grow. The root itself will eventually become depleted. Therefore, when you receive a radish, turnip, or daikon   (and the same goes for beets and carrots) with leaves attached, you must cut the leaves in order to preserve the root’s contents, to keep it fresh and firm for as long as possible.
  • It’s best to store root vegetables in a closed container to isolate them from the processes in the fridge and the materials secreted from the rest of the vegetables and food.

Radishes and turnips are great served fresh in a salad or sandwich, but don’t forget to use them in cooking as well. Yes, they can be baked and stir-fried, and they will please your hearts by adding some coolness to this year’s scorching October.

Impatiently awaiting the rain, which may hopefully arrive next week. Keep your fingers crossed, like this Daikon fella we harvested today…

 

Alon, Bat Ami, Ya’ara and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Parsley/coriander, eggplants/bell peppers, pumpkin, tomatoes, lettuce,    cucumbers, arugula, carrots, sweet potatoes Small boxes only: radishes, turnips

In the large box, in addition: Beets, daikon, garlic chives, lubia/beans, tot soi/kale/New Zealand spinach

Wednesday: daikon radish/small radish, lettuce, cucumbers, green peppers, cilantro/parsley, sweet potatoes, carrots, arugula, pumpkin, tomatoes, green beans/lubia – in small boxes

In the large box, in addition: turnip, kale/New Zealand spinach, garlic chive/leeks, green beans/lubia/eggplants

Aley Chubeza #140 – December 24th-26th 2012

the end of the month again…

At the end of this week, we will bill your credit cards for the December vegetables, fruits and other products ordered through Chubeza, including vegetables for next Monday, December 31. Please keep in mind that as the billing will take place towards the end of the week and before Monday deliveries, kindly inform us right away of any changes needed for next Monday’s boxes. Last minute changes will be balanced next month.

Note that the month of December had five Mondays and four Wednesdays.

We would like to remind you that you are now able to view your billing history in our Internet-based order system. It’s easy now, simply click the new tab “דוח הזמנות ותשלומים” where the history of your payments and purchases is clearly displayed.

Keep in mind that it takes two to three days to update your payments, but if you receive an invoice/receipt to your email, you know the billing was successful.

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TURNIP TIME!

Over the past few weeks, you have been graced by the visit of the dynamite duo of daikon or turnip. We wrote about the daring daikon a few weeks ago. Today his purple girlfriend, Miss Turnip, will be dominating the stage.

A fairy tale turnip

As a child, we had an old storybook with innocent, old-fashioned drawings in light colors. I don’t remember the plot of any of the stories, but I do recall that one was about a turnip. The children in the story sowed a turnip in their yard, or ate it for lunch or something along those lines. I remember we kids being astonished: what is a turnip? We imagined it to be an exotic European vegetable that only grows in harsh winters (maybe the children in the illustrations were wearing coats?), and with a heavenly taste (the children seemed so happy from their delectable meal).

In Israeli reality, the turnip rates very minimal acclaim. It is considered to be a boring, tasteless vegetable. But in stories, it is highly regarded.

The well-known “Eliezer V’HaGezer” story is originally the tale of a huge turnip that required the cooperation of all members of the household to pull it out of the ground. The original Jack O’Lantern was an Irish drunkard who scooped out the insides of a turnip and placed a candle inside to act as a lantern.

A Grimm Brothers tale tells of two brothers, one rich, one poor. The poor brother grows a huge turnip in his yard, and because he can’t figure out what to do with it, brings it to the king who rewards him with a huge fortune of gold. When the rich brother hears, he comes to the king with his own gift: gold and horses. The king is enthralled by this gift, and in thanks, sends the rich brother home with his gift: a huge turnip.

But beyond fairy tales, the turnip deserves real respect for being a truly great vegetable. True, it’s probably underrated because its mild taste is less pronounced than other vegetables. Which is unfortunate, because I fear we’re getting used to the strong tastes of over-seasoning, brought to us by fast food and nosh that bombard us with overbearing flavors. We then miss out on the more gentle savors, the ones that don’t grab the stage and holler.

The modest turnip is an ancient cultivated crop, known in Greece, Rome, China and ancient Egypt. Its origins are in China, central Asia and the Near East. In Israel, the turnip was grown during the times of the Mishnah, where it is mentioned as a popular garden vegetable. It belongs to the Cruciferae family, a cousin to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, arugula mustard, horseradish, radishes and others. Like the rest of the family, the turnip favors a cold winter climate that slows down the plant’s breathing and raises the quantity of the carbohydrate reserve, a process that improves its taste. Variable, unstable conditions will produce a woody root and strong flavor, and the turnip turns bitter if the weather is too hot or dry. Perhaps that’s the reason for the Israeli turnip being a true winter vegetable. The plant develops a dense root with a crown of leaves on its head, similar to the radish. There are many varieties of turnip: spherical, round, oblate and skewered, and their colors range from pink to purple to yellow.

In Israel, the root is the edible part, but in the Far East and southern United States it’s the greens that are eaten, with some species specially developed for their leaves. The root is eaten raw, cooked or pickled, and the leaves are cooked like spinach. There are countries that produce oil from the seeds. Somewhere in cyberspace I read about a Canadian who married a southern American, and one day they decided to have turnip for dinner. At the supermarket he placed a turnip root into his cart, to his wife’s astonishment. She was used to giving the root to feed pigs, and demanded the greens instead. He declared that as far as he’s concerned, the turnip IS the root, and greens are animal fodder. Sadly, neither ever touched a turnip again. The moral: both greens and root can be eaten.

So indulge yourself with turnips in everything from soup to meat dishes to cholent. Use the turnip as you would a carrot (crusted, steamed with butter, glazed) or a potato (chips, pureed). Combine long, thin pieces of raw turnip (made with a peeler) in a vegetable salad. Or pickle it for two days, without pre-cooking, in a sweet and sour liquid consisting of a cup of plain vinegar, a cup of water and a cup of sugar boiled together.

The turnip also has medicinal qualities. According to Nissim Crispil, it relieves coughing and hoarseness, mucus buildup and breathing problems. In natural medicine, quaffing turnip juice is said to improve your mood. It is also beneficial for the kidneys. Turnip roots contains calcium and potassium; drinking turnip-green juice aids in neutralizing excess blood acidity, and fortifying bones, hair, fingernails and teeth. Just 500 grams of turnip root will produce a glass of juice beneficial for anemia, arthritis, asthma, disruptions in the menstrual period, bladder obstruction, heart disease, fever, and kidney, liver and lung function. And 500 grams of turnip greens will produce half a glass of juice (one quarter in the morning, a quarter in the evening) to heal a cough, hoarseness and hair loss.

To your good health, and Bon Appétit!

Alon, Bat Ami, Ya’ara and the Chubeza lanterns

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Arugula, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, kale, cucumbers, spinach, daikon or turnips, chives or scallions, dill or cilantro, beets (small boxes only)

In the large box, in addition: Celeriac, radishes, potatoes, leeks

Wednesday: broccoli, kohlrabi or turnips, potatoes, leek or scallions, small radishes or daikon radish, parsley, cucumbers, lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach or arugula, tomatoes.

In the large box, in addition: carrots, celery or celeriac, beets or eggplants

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: granola and cookies, flour, sprouts, goat dairies, fruits, honey, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil and bakery products too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!

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Turnip Recipes:

Roasted Root Vegetables with Chermoula

Spring turnip frittata

Miso butter braised turnips

Pickled turnips

Turnip potato soup

Creamy turnip soup

Turnip gratin

Creamed turnips

Portuguese kale soup

Aley Chubeza #43 – November 15th-17th 2010

I am pleased to report that the date season at Kibbutz Samar is in its prime, with a delicious, fresh delivery of “Brahi” dates on their way to Chubeza soon. These sweet, unique dates, which we offered last year as well, are sold in 5 kg cartons for 100 NIS.  (A sharp decrease in this year’s crop yield caused the price to rise.) You can find details on this special date at the Kibbutz Samar Date Site. If you wish to make an order, please contact us as soon as possible.

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Radish, Turnip, Eye of Newt……………..

In a popular Hebrew book that my daughters love about five witches (by Ronit Chacham), radishes and turnips are major ingredients in the brew concocted for a spell by five very amusing witches. As it turns out, not only witches crave these vegetables.  Among us mortals and muggles, the turnip and radish (along with a small radish and daikon) can be just as vital in a potion to ease the common cold, mucous, hoarseness, coughing, infections and other winter spells. Winter is the season in which the members of the Brassicaceae family (formerly the Cruciferae) grow well. They are cousins, not siblings, since the radishes belong to the Raphanus genus and the turnips to the Brassica genus, but today we will sandwich them all together (or stir them into the same cauldron) and discuss their common characteristics.

So we already know that they all belong to the Brassicaceae family, along with such members as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kohlrabi, mustard greens, tat soi and others. Its former name was the Cruciferae, after the shape of its four-petal flowers,   which resembles a crucifix. Here are some examples:

Wild Mustard

Erucaria

Maltese Cross Ricotia
Wild Radish

The Brassicaceaes are a venerable winter family, and we eat various parts of their plants: sometimes the flower buds (broccoli, cauliflower), sometimes the stem (kohlrabi) or the leaves (mustard, cabbage, tat soi and others) and also the roots, to whom this newsletter is dedicated today: the radish, little radish, daikon and turnip.

Truth be told, this is a populist division. The good parts of turnip and radishes are not only found underground. For instance, turnip greens are very tasty, and some turnip varieties are grown specifically for their leaves and not roots. The big radish leaves are bitter and coarse, but the greens of small radishes can certainly be used in culinary pursuits. The French add small radish leaves to potato soup and to add a hint of pungency to salads made of steamed spinach. Other varieties of radish and turnips were developed in order to make oil from their seeds. These oils were used in the past, and Maimonides mentions them in discussing those oils permitted for Sabbath candle lighting: “At the outset, one is permitted to use other oils – e.g., radish oil, sesame oil, turnip oil, or the like. It is forbidden to use only those which were explicitly mentioned by our Sages”.(Mishnah Torah, Shabbat, chapter 5 halakha 11)

And now, some words on each of these vegetables:

The turnip is an ancient cultivated growth that was possibly grown in gardens of old in China, Greece, Rome, Egypt and also here. In kitchens throughout, it was a basic, common vegetable. Assaf the Physician (Assaf Harofe Ben Brakhiyahu who lived in 6th century Tiberias) praised the leaves and seeds of the turnip: “The leaves will be useful for all mental distresses and for malaria, while its seeds will be useful in treatment of pain and all sorts of ailments that lead to death.” However, even the juice produced from the root itself is known in folk medicine as beneficial in treating the cough, hoarseness, mucous, and dryness of the nose and mouth. In natural medicine the juice of the turnip is used to treat malaise as well as kidney stones. In order to produce juice, one must press the root. Half a kilo of roots make one glass of juice. Half a kilo of squeezed leaves will make half a glass of juice.

The radish, too, is an ancient common vegetable. It is considered to be a vegetable that arouses the appetite and aids in digestion. Its refreshing taste made a fresh radish salad the perfect choice to cleanse the palate between various meal portions. Its medicinal qualities match those of its cousin, the turnip, in treatment of the kidneys and the respiratory system. In addition, it is a friend to the pregnant lady, as the radish is known to increase fetal movement (and is not as fattening as chocolate) and as a remedy for gas. Dipping swollen feet in a bath of boiled radishes will ease discomfort.

There are many types of radishes, differing in size, shape and color, as well as pungency. Here are some illustrations of several radish beauties:

Small radishes of different colors

Black Radish

Daikon Radish
Red Radish

 Instructions for Storing:

  • –          Radishes and turnips are roots, i.e., their function is to absorb food and water from the earth in order to supply them to the plant as needed. When picked, we disconnect the plant from its current supply, and the roots hurry to transform the material they had accumulated to the plant’s leaves in order for them to continue to grow. The root itself will eventually become depleted. Therefore, when you receive a radish, turnip, daikon or little radish (and the same goes for beets and carrots) with leaves attached, you must cut the leaves in order to preserve the root’s contents, to keep it fresh and firm for as long as possible.
  • –          It’s best to store root vegetables in a closed container to isolate them from the processes in the fridge and the materials secreted from the rest of the vegetables and food.

Radishes and turnips are great served fresh in a salad or sandwich, but don’t forget to use them in cooking as well. Yes, they can be baked and stir fried, and they will please your hearts by adding some coolness to this boiling month of November.

Have a great week. Don’t give up on hopes, prayers, incantations and/or dances for rain—–whatever it takes!

Alon, Melissa, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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What’s in this week’s box (besides eye of newt)

Monday: Daikon or turnip or radish, parsley, arugula, red leaf lettuce, green mustard, tomatoes, cucumbers, red beets, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower-small boxes.

Large box, in addition: lubia or yard-long beans, scallions, nana, cabbage

Wednesday: red leaf lettuce, parsley, cucumbers, mustard greens, red bell peppers, scallions, radish or daikon or turnip, red beet, sweet potatoes, arugula, small boxes-broccoli or cauliflower.

Large box, in addition: Lubia or okra or yard long beans, eggplants or peas, broccoli, cauliflower.

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Recipes for Radishes and Turnips, plus two Sweet Potato Recipes We Omitted Last Week:

Judy from Beit Shemesh sent this recipe from Laurel’s Kitchen for

Beloved Sweet Potato Salad

  • -Peel sweet potatoes, slice, and sprinkle with salt and olive oil. Bake until soft, but not too soft. Cool.
  • -Cut sweet potato into cubes, add 1 chopped sweet red pepper, and around 3 chopped green onion leaves. Season with grated ginger, grated lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and salt to taste.
  • -Add yoghurt if desired.

Rivka, a veteran, faithful client, added a recipe for a wonderful

Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Dessert

  • -Mix in  a bowl: 1 cup cubed pumpkin, 1 cup cubed sweet potatoes, 1 T. grated ginger, thin slices of citrus zest, a bit of cinnamon, and 2 T. pomegranate concentrate (or to taste).
  • -Heat for several minutes in microwave in a glass or ceramic vessel.

Melissa sent me (and prepared a sample) of this recipe by Roxanne of Kibbutz Gezer, a former organic farmer. It’s easy, tasty and healthy—and perfect to combat the ills of a winter heat wave.  

Roxanne’s Daikon Salad

  • -1 c. daikon, coarsely grated
  • -1 t. rice vinegar (or apple or white wine vinegar)
  • -1 t. soy sauce
  • -1 t. toasted sesame oil (dark)
  • -Optional: fresh grated ginger or powdered and/or a bit of sugar

Store in sealed container. Tastes best after refrigerated several hours or overnight.

Melissa also sent me a recipe that proves that radishes can be served at a sumptuous meal:

Neil Ferguson’s Black Radish Gratin (I tried with daikon and it came out great):

  • 1/2 kilo black radishes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 30 grams butter
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

  • –          Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  • –          Peel radishes and slice them very thinly (1/6 cm if possible) on a mandolin.
  • –          In a saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer, then turn off heat and allow to infuse for about 10 minutes.
  • –          Strain cream into another saucepan, discarding solids.
  • –          Add sliced radishes and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • –          Remove radish slices with a perforated spoon, and layer them in a small casserole. Cover with cream mixture and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.

And last – links to recipes and tips for radishes (including how to make Tulip Garnishes) and also to three simple recipes with turnips, both from the Green Earth Institute website, a non-profit organic educational farm (and CSA) in Illinois, USA.

Aley Chubeza #2 – January 4th-6th 2010

The Hand that Sows the Soil…

In traditional agriculture, the winter months of January-February are family time. After the hard work of autumn and the rush to get everything done in time, it’s the weather which dictates a slower pace and provides the farmer with shorter work days, a temporary respite from the never-ending toil, and a time for introspection– with hope and prayers for timely rain and bountiful harvests.

In this wintry spirit, I’m devoting some of this week’s Newsletter to the faces behind your–our– vegetables, the people who work all week preparing the earth, planting and seeding the vegetables, watering and fertilizing the growing plants, weeding and thinning the garden beds, trellising, covering or pruning if needed, and lastly, picking and packing the produce. There is a great deal of manual labor in vegetable growing, but in Chubeza, we believe that it doesn’t end with just the physical exertion. We all gain from the happiness and devotion our workers put into their efforts. When farming can be pursued in an environment of friendship and cooperation, concern and faith in the good earth, and out of a connection to nature and labor, this is all thanks to a good, talented team of diligent workers. I’d like to introduce you to them now.  Each is of course a world within him/herself, but I tried to limit myself to one paragraph per person…

I established Chubeza over six years ago. Six months later, Alon Efrati joined, first as a worker, then as a manager. Finally he took over management of the entire farm, a burden he carries on his calm, strong shoulders to this day. Today he and I are partners in the management of Chubeza.  

I arrived at Chubeza as a sort of retraining and career change, after spending most of my adult life in the realms of education and therapies. I did realize that an occupation that involves a lot of speaking and responsibility for the well being of human lives might be too hard for me. After several years of dealing with the difficult, even filthy, areas of life, I needed the peace and quiet offered by working alone in a green field—where the dirt is just mud and there’s a plethora of growth and blooming…Life’s interesting jolts led me to San Francisco Bay Area in California, where I took a local gardening course and started working in small farms that managed to survive, despite it all, in the heart of Silicon Valley. After two years in three farms, I returned to Israel bounding with western optimism, positive that I would be able to establish a CSA in the Promised Land.

I’ll spare you the sarcasm and cynicism (some would call it experience and realism) that I encountered when I first began. Yet, somehow I managed to move on, encouraged by support from family and friends, and most of all, my dear sister, who introduced me to Alon Efrati (one of the three Alon’s), who helped me nurture Chubeza then and now.

Alon, an agronomist by profession, brought the professional side and diploma to Chubeza. Unlike myself, Alon had known for some time that he would be a farmer. In his “post-Army-tiyul” he stayed in South Africa for a short while and worked in a small permaculture farm. While at school, he started a home vegetable garden to (literally) get his hands dirty. From the start, Alon brought a vast knowledge of medicinal herbs, wild plants and plants in general. To this day, he continues to contribute his knowledge, with modesty and a readiness to learn and understand more about farming. Our first years supplied many opportunities to learn—most of them the hard way–how, where, how much and when to grow quality vegetables. We’re still learning, but today we can happily say that the great vegetables you find in your boxes are first and foremost thanks to a talented, modest, calm and very intelligent farmer named Alon Efrati.

The next tribute to a Chubeza worker goes to Suwet– our most veteran worker, who arrived to Israel from a “moshav” (as he describes it) in the Chiang Mai area of north Thailand. Like other Thai workers, Suat came here initially to earn a living, but we were blessed with a smart, dedicated worker who has great knowledge from his own rich experience (he taught us about growing and picking ademame, the green soybean). But his success comes mostly from the love of his work. Today Suat is our field manager, infinitely capable of maneuvering his heavy workload with wisdom, calm, and a constant smile.

Next is Alon Karni from Mesilat Zion, who became interested in the organic farming of his yoga student (Alon Efrati) and eventually found himself, three and a half years ago, straining his body at Chubeza twice or three times weekly. Aside from being an excellent yoga teacher for children and adults, Alon teaches environmental studies at a boys school near Lod, where he instructs these youngsters how to grow vegetables, make natural buildings, and most of all– how to live, grow and enjoy it. On harvest days, Alon is in charge of the packinghouse, and he does this with skill, diligence and serenity.

Two years ago, Alon brought along his brother-in-law, Lobsang. Tibetan by birth, Lobsang was raised in India. Although he spent most of his life in the snowy mountains of northern India, he is Chubeza’s greatest hater of winter. But even on rainy, wet, cold days, he keeps up his good spirits, singing as he works. Beyond his agricultural skills, Lobsang is an amazing chef. After he came aboard, our cooking rotation quickly dissolved. The job went solely to Lobsang, who upgraded our hummus-based meals to true vegetable delicacies. If the sun and green haven’t yet convinced you to come visit, now we can bribe you with one of Lobsang’s renowned lunches…

At approximately the same time, two years ago, we were joined by Mohammed, who comes from Beit Likia, in the Judean Hills north of Chubeza. So close, really, only half an hour by bike, but over the “border.” Mohammed is a veteran farmer who has been growing vegetables and olives in his village and other moshavim in the area for years. His intelligence and farming experience, which cannot be learned in any college, come from a deep understanding of how to raise crops and how to love and respect the earth. Mohammed is our collector and teacher of edible weeds. More than once he has pointed to some wild plant or another and suggested a recipe for a tasty meal.

Our newest additions to the “Chubeza Salad” are Shacham from Kibbutz Nachshon, and Yossi from Har Adar. They’ve both joined recently and are making headway on the farm, learning from our veteran staff, and experiencing first-hand what pea picking in the rain is like, how heavy feet-in-boots can be after walking around the farm on a muddy day, and how delicious a lunch salad and hot sweet tea can be on a strenuous workday. We also have a supplemental crew that joins occasionally- Miriam and Sarah from Lod. They are our guardian angels, arriving just as the weeds are threatening to take over, weeding garden-bed after garden-bed. Our new very weedy farm could never have provided the produce in your boxes without the rescue team from Lod.

In addition to our paid workers, we have been blessed with very devoted volunteers who pitch in to help with the farm’s endless chores, enjoy the sun (or rainy days), get their hands muddy, strain their muscles, and of course, dine on Lobsang’s lunches… First and foremost is our oldest volunteer (so to speak), Alon’s grandfather, Avraham Sabach, who has arrived every Wednesday for the past three years to be Alon Karni’s personal assistant in weighing the vegetables and distributing them in the boxes. Over the past year, Rachel from Tel Aviv and Alon from Beit Shemesh have been coming faithfully every Monday harvest day, bright and early, to toil till almost the end of our workday– and making us feel we’re doing them a huge favor. Lately, Na’ama from Neve Ilan has joined as well, and together with her sister help us out with every necessary farming task.

Last but not least, Davidi from Bar Giora, who has been with us for the past two years in various jobs, comes on Wednesdays to help out with harvest.

You usually don’t come in contact with us, the actual farmers, but every week we do   meet, via our loyal delivery team. Eyal delivers to the “Jerusalem outskirts” on Mondays and to the Jerusalemites on Wednesday. Ariel delivers a surprising amount of boxes to Jerusalemites on Wednesdays, Eli is in charge of Modiin-Jerusalem-Gush Ezion on Mondays and even Alon Karni joins the delivery forces (once a fortnight, at the end of a long workday) delivering to Nes Ziona, Rehovot and Mazkeret Batya. In the Tel Aviv area, Amit is in charge of the crew for clients of Tel-Aviv, Ramat Gan and Givatayim. Our delivery team has been with us for a long time. Neither rain nor shine, nor gloom of the night, car problems or other mishaps, will keep these men from delivering your fresh lettuce, carrots and broccoli that only yesterday were snuggled in the warm earth.  

This combination of volunteers and workers, older and younger people, and the diverse cultural backgrounds of those on our farm is another aspect of poly-culture–the multi-culture that is not merely expressed in the variety of vegetables and species in a small farm. It’s a devoted group of people happy to bury their hands in the earth, who hope together for its successful harvest, who rejoice at the sight of the first potatoes, and sigh (sometimes with relief) when the last one is pulled from the earth. Most of all, they enjoy the farm work, the observation work, and the work of the heart that go with farming.

I apologize for the long newsletter this week. It was important to me to introduce you “personally” to each and every partner in our work, and to thank them all for joining us.

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This week’s basket includes:

 Monday: lettuce, carrots, Swiss chard / tatsoi / kale, turnip/kohlrabi, parsley, tomatoes, broccoli, new potatoes!, beets, green onions, cucumbers, celery

In the large box, in addition: cauliflower / green cabbage, peas, small radishes

 Wednesday: tatsoi, parsley, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, green cabbage, carrots, fennel/turnip, cucumbers, potatoes, green onions/celery

In the large box, in addition: kohlrabi, peas, lettuce

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A Fairy-Tale Vegetable

As a child, we had an old storybook with innocent, old-fashioned drawings in light colors. I don’t remember any of the stories, but I do recall that one was about a turnip. The children in the story sowed a turnip in their yard, or ate it for lunch or something along those lines. I remember we kids being astonished: what is a turnip? We imagined it to be an exotic European vegetable that only grows in heavy winters (maybe the children in the illustrations were wearing coats?), with a heavenly taste (the children seemed very happy from their delectable meal).

In Israeli reality, the turnip rates very minimal acclaim. It is considered to be a boring, tasteless vegetable. But in stories, it is highly regarded.

The well-known “Eliezer V’HaGezer” story is originally the tale of a huge turnip that required the cooperation of all members of the household to pull it out of the ground. The original Jack O’Lantern was an Irish drunkard who scooped out the insides of a turnip and placed a candle to act as a lantern.

A Grimm Brothers tale tells about two brothers, one rich, one poor. The poor brother grows huge turnip in his yard, and because he can’t figure out what to do with it, brings it to the king who rewards him with a huge fortune of gold. When the rich brother hears, he comes to the king with his own gift: gold and horses. The king is enthralled by this gift, and in thanks, sends the rich brother home with his gift: a huge turnip.

But beyond fairy tales, the turnip deserves real respect for being a truly great vegetable. Perhaps underrated, because its taste is mild and not as pronounced as other vegetables. Which is unfortunate, because I fear we’re getting used to the strong tastes of over-seasoning, brought to us by fast food and nosh that bombard us with overbearing flavors. We then miss out on the more gentle savors, ones that don’t grab the stage and holler.

The modest turnip is an ancient cultured crop, known in Greece, Rome, China and ancient Egypt. Its origins are in China, central Asia and the Near East. In Israel, the turnip was grown during the times of the Mishna, where it is mentioned as a popular garden vegetable. It belongs to the Cruciferae family, a cousin to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, garden rocket, mustard, horseradish, radishes and others. Like the rest of the family, it favors a cold winter climate that slows down the plant’s breathing and raises the quantity of the carbohydrate reserve, a process that improves its taste. Variable, unstable conditions will produce a woody root and strong flavor, and the turnip turns bitter if the weather is too hot or dry. Perhaps this why in Israel the turnip is a true winter vegetable. The plant develops a dense root with a crown of leaves on its head, similar to the radish. There are many varieties of turnip: the spherical, the round, the oblate and the skewered, and their colors vary from pink to purple to yellow.

 In Israel, the root is the edible part, but in the Far East and southern United States it’s the leaves that are eaten, with some species specially developed for their leaves. The root is eaten raw, cooked or pickled, and the leaves are cooked like spinach. There are countries that produce oil from the seeds. Somewhere in cyberspace I read about a Canadian who married a southern American, and one day they decided to have turnip for dinner. At the supermarket he placed a turnip root into his cart, to his wife’s astonishment. She was used to giving the root to feed pigs, and demanded the greens instead. He declared that as far as he’s concerned, the turnip IS the root, and leaves are animal fodder. Sadly, neither ever touched a turnip again. The moral: both greens and root can be eaten.

 So indulge yourself with turnips in everything from soup to meat dishes to cholent. Use the turnip as you would a carrot (crusted, steamed with butter, glazed) or a potato (chips, pureed). Combine long, thin pieces of raw turnip (made with a peeler) in a vegetable salad. Or pickle it for two days without pre-cooking in a sweet and sour liquid consisting of a cup of plain vinegar, a cup of water and a cup of sugar boiled together.

 The turnip also has medicinal qualities. According to Nissim Crispil, it relieves coughing and hoarseness, mucus buildup and breathing problems. In natural medicine, quaffing turnip juice is said to improve your mood. It is also beneficial for the kidneys. Turnip roots contains calcium and potassium; drinking turnip-leaf juice aids in neutralizing excess blood acidity, and fortifying bones, hair, fingernails and teeth. 500 grams of turnip root will produce a glass of juice beneficial for anemia, arthritis, asthma, disruptions in the menstrual period, bladder obstruction, heart disease, fever, and kidney, liver and lung function. 500 grams of leaves will produce half a glass of juice (one quarter in the morning, a quarter in the evening) to heal a cough, hoarseness and hair loss.

Tips for Turnips:

  • Peel and wash turnips just before preparing, to prevent darkening
  • Cooking time for turnips is 5-10 minutes in boiling water.
  • Since turnips tend to absorb a great deal of water, dry them a bit after cooking in a frying pan slightly greased with butter.

 

Turnip recipes:

Ruth from Jerusalem sent me this one, fresh from last Shabbat’s meal: With all the turnips and sweet potatoes we’ve collected, I made up a soup Friday which everyone loved:

4-5 turnips, cleaned and trimmed
4-5 sweet potatoes
1-2 big onions
water
salt and pepper
olive oil
fresh sage
a little butter

Sauté onions in olive oil. Add turnips and sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cook in water till tender, then blend.
In a small frying pan, heat olive oil and a little butter, stir-fry fresh sage leaves till brownish. When serving soup, garnish with crumbled sage leaves.
Enjoy!

 

Shalram—an Iraqi dish that’s perfect for very cold days and Shabatot

Ingredients:
5-6 medium turnips, cleaned and trimmed
4-5 T. sugar
Black-tea bag
Water to cover
Salt (just a little)

Preparation:
Slice turnips in half or in quarters. Bring turnip slices, tea bag and sugar to a boil.
Now you have two options – you can lower heat and continue cooking until tender (about 20 minutes), or you can treat it as chulent: place it on the Shabbat plata and let it cook overnight. Serve warm.

 

Turnip Puree

Turnips, like other root vegetables, are particularly delicious as a puree, which brings out the flavor. Simply peel and boil in salted water. Once turnips are soft, drain and place in food processor with a bit of milk. In moments you’ll have a white, lustrous puree with a gentle bitter savor.

 

  “Torshi” Tunisian Turnip Recipe (from www.matkonim.net )

A winter salad, hot-bitter-tart, served with couscous and also excellent with hamin

Ingredients:
2 turnips
2 green chili peppers
4 cloves garlic
1 medium lime, or several Chinese lemons
1 T. Tunisian harissa
1 t. ground caraway seeds (kimmel)
salt
2 T. regular oil

Preparation:
Clean and wash turnips. Cut to thin slices, and then cut each slice into small triangles. Slice the pepper and cut in thick rings. Peel the lime, slice into large pieces, and crush into the vegetable mixture. If using Chinese lemons, slice into small cubes. Slice garlic thinly. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Salad is ready immediately, but it’s preferable to leave at room temperature overnight to enhance the absorption of the flavors.

 

Turnip Salad, Lettuce and Carrots

Ingredients:
Raw turnip and grated carrot
Vinegar
Fresh dill, chopped
Lettuce
Salt and pepper

Preparation:
Mix and serve

 

 Like Other Vegetables, Turnips Can—and Should—be Preserved

Ingredients for pickling mixture:
1 c. sugar
1 c. vinegar
1 c. water
salt

Preparation:
Carefully peel turnips and cut into cubes. Bring pickling liquid to a boil and pour over vegetables. Store in glass jar.
Can be served as soon as the liquid cools, or kept refrigerated for several weeks.